When Marie Kenning witnesses the kidnapping of a child, she relives the horror of the death of her own child and husband.
Officer Chris Whitley takes on the case—and an interest in Marie—but evidence quickly indicates the child is dead.
Days later, Marie stumbles across the kidnapper and his very-much-alive victim. Unable to convince the man she loves of the truth, Marie sets out alone on a dangerous cross-country mission to save the child.
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Marie stirred sugar into her coffee as she stared at her wavering reflection in the Lakedale Café window. Shoulder-length auburn hair framed her face, accentuating its thinness. Wide-set eyes gazed bleakly back at her from the rain-spattered glass, their pale blue hue darkened by the gloom until they matched the cloudy October sky. A slight frown creased her forehead, then deepened as she looked past her reflection out into the rain and swirling leaves.
The stormy fall day brought back with crystal clarity every sight and sound of the anguished fall night six years ago when she'd lost John and their unborn child in a head-on collision with a drunk driver. The careless decision of the drunk to get behind the wheel had changed her life forever in one shrieking, heart-rending moment.
Marie couldn't come to grips with her grief, hadn't accepted her loss. She didn't understand why her husband and child had died, or why the other driver got off with cuts and bruises. She couldn't comprehend a legal system that gave the drunk driver a slap on the wrist, when he had taken from her everything that was most precious. Most of all, she didn't understand why she had survived, when she had nothing left to live for. The only way she got through each day was to repress all her feelings, both good and bad. It was the only way to keep the memories out. But occasionally, on rainy days like this one, the tip of the painful iceberg surfaced.
A movement outside the window caught her attention, snapping her out of her bitter memories. Her frown disappeared, and her lips curved in a tender, wistful smile. Tagging behind a group ofolder children, a slight figure in a bright yellow vinyl raincoat sloshed enthusiastically through the puddles on the sidewalk outside the café. A matching yellow umbrella hovered over her pigtailed head, sometimes shielding her carrot-colored curls, but more often not. Nevertheless, the expression on the child's freckled face was as sunny and carefree as a daffodil.
Marie sighed and turned back to her coffee. Though she took a big gulp of the scalding liquid, burning her tongue and the roof of her mouth, the pain couldn't erase the thought she had every morning when she saw the child from her usual table in the café: her little girl would have been about that age now, might have looked just like that.
Her throat closed and her vision blurred. A hot tear slid down her cheek, followed by another.
"Hey, Marie! Are you okay?" Bill Mackay, owner of the café, walked over to her table. The ever-present coffeepot in his hand wobbled a bit as he leaned over her, peering into her face.
The concern in his voice halted the downward spiral of her despair. That was the problem with living in a small town–Bill and so many others knew every detail of her past life, every fragment of her tragedy. If she so much as sniffled, they all knew why.
"Yes," she said, crumbling her cake doughnut to bits. "I'm okay. Days like this still get to me, I guess."
Bill glanced at her and nodded, then looked down at his scuffed shoes. She felt a reproach coming. He had urged her, more than once, to stop "mooning" over the child and get on with her life. Marie didn't think she could stand another lecture, so she held up her half-empty coffee cup. "More?"
"Here now," he mumbled, taking the cup from her and filling it. "It's on the house. Hot and free, just what you need on a rainy day."
Marie reached up and squeezed his arm. "Thanks, Bill. I'll be all right. You always know what to say to bring me out of the blues."
Bill grinned. "Don't want to lose my best customer," he said.
Someone called for more coffee, and he shuffled off happily with the pot.
Marie turned her attention back to the window. She knew it was foolish, but she wanted to see the little pigtailed girl again. On many mornings she waved to the child through the window, and the little girl waved back. The brief exchange of greetings was always the highlight of Marie's day.
Sure enough, the child was still there, though her companions were out of sight farther up the street. She was bent over the newspaper stand, her lips moving, trying to decipher the front page headline of the paper on display. Marie guessed she couldn't be older than six, and was just learning to read.
An old, black Mustang, pockmarked with dents and red primer, pulled up to the curb and came to a stop next to the vending machine. The passenger window rolled down. The little girl glanced up. Marie couldn't hear anything through the café window, but it was apparent someone in the car was speaking to her. The child nodded. Pointing down the street, she skirted the newspaper machine and stepped closer to the car.
Marie frowned. What adult in his right mind would stop and ask directions of a six-year-old child? Something wasn't right. Shoving her cup away, she kept her attention on the little girl.
At that moment, a man's arm darted out through the window, grabbed the little girl by the front of her raincoat and slammed her against the side of the car. She dropped her umbrella and tried to rear back out of the man's relentless hold. Her high, wavering scream was whipped away on the wind. His other arm seized her, and he dragged her in through the window. Just before she disappeared into the black interior, she threw an anguished backward glance in Marie's direction.
Marie couldn't move. She held her breath and blinked in an effort to erase what she'd seen. After an instant that seemed an eternity, she leapt up with a strangled cry, bumping the table and overturning her coffee.
"Marie!" Bill called from behind the counter. "What's the matter?"
She stumbled from the booth and staggered toward the door. "The little girl!" she cried over her shoulder. "The little girl–someone just kidnapped her! Help me!"
"Oh, my God," Bill said. His coffeepot crashed to the floor, and he rushed out the door after her into the wind and driving rain.
Copyright © 2005 by Elizabeth Delisi
What People are Saying About This
Leta Nolan Childers, author of YESTERDAY'S TOMORROW
Filled with suspense, mystery, romance and intrigue, Elizabeth Delisi's SINCE ALL IS PASSING is just one of those books you can't put down. It's a classic, ranking it with any great Hitchcock movie or Agatha Christie novel. Just when you think that Marie Kenning and Chris Whitley have conquered the monumental challenges placed in their way, yet another twist pops up unexpectedly. This makes for a terrific and entertaining time for any reader...one they'll want to return to time and again."
Under the Covers Reviews: Carol Lynn Stewart, author of HEALING SONG
In SINCE ALL IS PASSING, Elizabeth Delisi, author of FATAL FORTUNE (Petals of Life) has crafted a gripping tale of survival and redemption. Marie's voyage from resigned despair to hope and faith is refreshing. While I kept rooting for Marie and Rebecca, I also found I wanted to grind the lit end of a cigarette into the villain's - er - private parts."
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
When Marie Kenning witnesses the abduction of a child she can¿t turn her back. Officer Chris Whitley suspects the child is dead and doesn¿t want Marie involved in the investigation. Marie, remembering her own dead child, is determined to find and rescue the little girl. Knowing only that the kidnapper¿s car carried Pennsylvania plates, Marie sets out alone in dangerous pursuit. I read this heart-grabbing story in one sitting. Don¿t miss it. Just don¿t forget to breathe occasionally or you¿ll pass out from the suspense! Jane Ann Tun TIME LAPSE, Avid Press, October 1999.
A kidnapping of a young girl. A woman not related to the girl tries to save her. This story grabs you and keeps you from start to finish. I was literally on the edge of my seat all the way through. The suspense and tension of the story line, the characters you care about very much, the bad guy you want to get his comeuppance. All these things make for a very engaging read. I am a new fan of Elizabeth Delisi and this story does not disappoint. OUTSTANDING!!! I received this free from the author for an honest review. Highly recommend to any and all.